August 7, 2013

Watson must open for long-term gains

That's where he wants to play and he knows he will be judged on his results at the top of the order
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The mood in the Australian camp should be positive after the Old Trafford Test, even though the chance to regain the Ashes is gone. At the end of the Lord's Test I don't think anyone was really contemplating a turnaround that would return the urn to Australia. But looking at the bigger picture, they have taken some important positive steps in the overall development of this team, not just for this tour but the return series in Australia and the coming years as well.

But they have left themselves with a conundrum by shifting David Warner up the order in place of Shane Watson in the second innings in Manchester. Warner would have loved and relished that opportunity, given the match situation, and he looked much more comfortable walking in against the new ball than taking on the offspin of Graeme Swann.

That said, if I was picking the batting order, I would have Shane Watson opening again for the fourth Test in Chester-le-Street and Warner coming in at No. 6. I think that's the order that could prove most beneficial in the long term. Warner will play the majority of his Test cricket in Australia, and given the pace and bounce in the pitches at home, coming in at No. 6 won't be an issue for him as it might be in some countries like India and England.

Before the series, I was of the opinion that Watson had to return to the top of the order, and I still believe that is where he is best suited to batting. That's where Watson himself wants to play and he knows he will be judged on his results there. He hasn't yet been able to nail a big score in this series but his role in the successful first innings can't be forgotten. He didn't reach a personal milestone but if you have an opening partnership of 70 or 80 on the first day of a Test, both openers have done their job.

Watson has batted in every position from No. 1 to 5 in the past year of Test cricket but he clearly prefers to open. I don't think Warner would be too concerned about his position in the order; such is his mindset. Every player is different in that way. Andrew Symonds was never worried about changing positions but Damien Martyn was a guy who loved structure and, even in the short verison, liked to know his role and prepare for it without being shuffled around.

I can understand why they changed the order in the second innings at Old Trafford. They were probably spoiled for choice, which is quite ironic given the concerns around the batting order in recent times. Watson is a short-version opener and we know Warner's record in trying to be aggressive at the top, and Chris Rogers was the player who hit the ball best in the first innings. I'm not sure which way they will go with the batting order in Chester-le-Street, but I hope Watson opens.

One player whose role at Old Trafford might slip under the radar, but shouldn't, is Brad Haddin. It was a fantastic turnaround for Haddin. His contribution in that match was outstanding and everything you would hope for from an experienced vice-captain who is also a high-quality batsman and wicketkeeper. He ticked every box after coming in for a lot of criticism.

I especially commend him for being able to turn things around at Old Trafford, because the conditions and the crowd element make it a tough venue for overseas players. I remember having a terrible game there with the gloves during an Under-19 tour in 1991 and it was no better when I played there in the 2005 Ashes - I had an absolute horror of a Test there. My concerns for Hadds, given the venue, were high but he absolutely nailed it with both bat and gloves.

It goes without saying that the Australians will know they have climbed their way back into this series - though the chance to regain the Ashes is now gone. It was a great effort from England to retain the Ashes, for the third consecutive time now. They got things right at the important times in the first two Tests, at Trent Bridge and Lord's, and that has been the difference.

But now the Australians are happy about the quick turnaround for another series, because they will feel they have inflicted a few wounds on England. They have a terrific opportunity to back it up with two more positive Tests and then go back home to Australia and really challenge England in more familiar conditions. One thing is certain: things look much brighter now than they did two weeks ago.

Adam Gilchrist was speaking to Brydon Coverdale

Adam Gilchrist played 96 Tests for Australia as a wicketkeeper-batsman and was part of three winning Ashes campaigns

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on August 7, 2013, 4:17 GMT

    How easy is it for a player to change their position in a batting line up for the greater good of the team? It's obvious that Warner and Watson both want that agressive openers role but Warner's test average and the difference between his first and second inning in the last test strongly suggest Warner is the man to open. As the more experienced member of the team i would have thought with enough mental application that Watson could transform himself into a #6. I get that openers hate waiting around dressing rooms for wickets to fall, and Watson may struggle against spin and reverse swing, but sometimes a test cricketer has to make a conscious decision to discipline themselves, evolve their game and do what's best for their team. Afterall Watson is representing a country, not himself.

  • SKKdodge on August 10, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    In Australia or other places he (Watson) might be ok opening where the ball comes on a bit more, but you get Watson in England with the swing and seem, you need an opener's technique. You need to be able to leave, and often the ball right under your nose. To me certainly Warner does not that bill, at least not in England. Too flashy and not patient enough to know when to leave. England is the ultimate test for an Australian opener. That doesn't answer my next question. Who DO we use with Rogers.

  • on August 10, 2013, 2:42 GMT

    Remember when Australia had high standards for selection?

  • Chopman on August 9, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    Thank you Adam. I always enjoy reading your perspective.

  • Markus971 on August 9, 2013, 5:27 GMT

    What are you trying to say reg'dng your comment about Dave Warner playing most of His cricket in Australia, not India & England.. U think He can't play on Low slow wickets!? Not sure how you arrive at that conclusion.

  • Jagger on August 8, 2013, 15:20 GMT

    You had me convinced until you supported Haddin. Is Hartley a better gloveman or not?

  • Big_Chikka on August 8, 2013, 14:20 GMT

    watson needs runs, he looks like he's demons in his head when he bats, one hundred rids the demons and he smiles again. let him open.......

  • Barnesy4444 on August 8, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    Capital Markets, Having an opening batsmen averaging mid 20's isn't sustainable long term. He should be given this entire series to open, then open in the lead up games to the next Ashes series and then reassess.

    As for Hughes, that 81* was an excellent test innings. He is dominating the warm up matches, but gets dropped after getting out to the best spinner in the world only twice. This has been happening to Hughes since he was 20. Gilly writes about Damien Martyn NEEDING certainty about his position and role in the team to prepare mentally, Hughes is the same.

  • Andy_Wright on August 8, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    I have to disagree with Gilly on this one - Warner is far better suited technically and temperamentally to the top of the order than Watson. Watson is highly suspect against the moving new ball, and much better at hitting spin out of the ground from no.6 than Warner.

    On the other hand, Warner is a natural opener with a much greater propensity for big hundreds. He isn't always going to come off with his attacking style, but that's expected of guys in that mould, such as Virender Sehwag. Didn't Sehwag himself suggest to Warner that he should bat at the top because of the greater scoring options with the field up at the start of a Test?

    A more daring approach would be to open with Watson AND Warner, and have Rogers stabilise the important no.3 spot with Clarke at no.4. Khawaja (or someone else) can bat no.5 and Smith at no.6.

  • Sefo on August 8, 2013, 8:44 GMT

    We are talking about TEST cricket here. Neither Watson nor Warner are test openers - both mentally (poor temperament, lack of 5 day match awareness) and technically (defense, shot selection) deficient. Open with Rogers and Cowen, particularly in England. Clarke at 3 as best batsman and responsible captain. Khawaja at 4 for now, Warner at 5 and Watson at 6 (as the genuine all rounder).

  • on August 7, 2013, 4:17 GMT

    How easy is it for a player to change their position in a batting line up for the greater good of the team? It's obvious that Warner and Watson both want that agressive openers role but Warner's test average and the difference between his first and second inning in the last test strongly suggest Warner is the man to open. As the more experienced member of the team i would have thought with enough mental application that Watson could transform himself into a #6. I get that openers hate waiting around dressing rooms for wickets to fall, and Watson may struggle against spin and reverse swing, but sometimes a test cricketer has to make a conscious decision to discipline themselves, evolve their game and do what's best for their team. Afterall Watson is representing a country, not himself.

  • SKKdodge on August 10, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    In Australia or other places he (Watson) might be ok opening where the ball comes on a bit more, but you get Watson in England with the swing and seem, you need an opener's technique. You need to be able to leave, and often the ball right under your nose. To me certainly Warner does not that bill, at least not in England. Too flashy and not patient enough to know when to leave. England is the ultimate test for an Australian opener. That doesn't answer my next question. Who DO we use with Rogers.

  • on August 10, 2013, 2:42 GMT

    Remember when Australia had high standards for selection?

  • Chopman on August 9, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    Thank you Adam. I always enjoy reading your perspective.

  • Markus971 on August 9, 2013, 5:27 GMT

    What are you trying to say reg'dng your comment about Dave Warner playing most of His cricket in Australia, not India & England.. U think He can't play on Low slow wickets!? Not sure how you arrive at that conclusion.

  • Jagger on August 8, 2013, 15:20 GMT

    You had me convinced until you supported Haddin. Is Hartley a better gloveman or not?

  • Big_Chikka on August 8, 2013, 14:20 GMT

    watson needs runs, he looks like he's demons in his head when he bats, one hundred rids the demons and he smiles again. let him open.......

  • Barnesy4444 on August 8, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    Capital Markets, Having an opening batsmen averaging mid 20's isn't sustainable long term. He should be given this entire series to open, then open in the lead up games to the next Ashes series and then reassess.

    As for Hughes, that 81* was an excellent test innings. He is dominating the warm up matches, but gets dropped after getting out to the best spinner in the world only twice. This has been happening to Hughes since he was 20. Gilly writes about Damien Martyn NEEDING certainty about his position and role in the team to prepare mentally, Hughes is the same.

  • Andy_Wright on August 8, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    I have to disagree with Gilly on this one - Warner is far better suited technically and temperamentally to the top of the order than Watson. Watson is highly suspect against the moving new ball, and much better at hitting spin out of the ground from no.6 than Warner.

    On the other hand, Warner is a natural opener with a much greater propensity for big hundreds. He isn't always going to come off with his attacking style, but that's expected of guys in that mould, such as Virender Sehwag. Didn't Sehwag himself suggest to Warner that he should bat at the top because of the greater scoring options with the field up at the start of a Test?

    A more daring approach would be to open with Watson AND Warner, and have Rogers stabilise the important no.3 spot with Clarke at no.4. Khawaja (or someone else) can bat no.5 and Smith at no.6.

  • Sefo on August 8, 2013, 8:44 GMT

    We are talking about TEST cricket here. Neither Watson nor Warner are test openers - both mentally (poor temperament, lack of 5 day match awareness) and technically (defense, shot selection) deficient. Open with Rogers and Cowen, particularly in England. Clarke at 3 as best batsman and responsible captain. Khawaja at 4 for now, Warner at 5 and Watson at 6 (as the genuine all rounder).

  • SKKdodge on August 8, 2013, 7:10 GMT

    Watson has done well in England opening (Last tour), but the difficulty in my mind is his role as a genuine allrounder now. How many allrounders open in test cricket? None that I know of. For good reason. They need a rest mentally and physically for there next role.Watson is being used as an alllrounder at this moment and is bowling well and has the ability to be the best in cricket. We all all know how fragile he is, so use him wisely as an all rounder when used as one.

  • landl47 on August 8, 2013, 6:08 GMT

    Ian Chappell made a comment about Ricky Ponting in the 2010/11 Ashes which could be applied to Watson's whole career: "He's in great form. He just keeps getting out."

  • austentayshus on August 8, 2013, 5:13 GMT

    No Gilly Watson doesn't deserve to be in the squad forget opening the batting .. Lad had few good chances and he had blew them all ..

  • on August 8, 2013, 4:22 GMT

    Moving Watson down the batting order need not be permanent. But it is a necessity for the rest of this tour. In fact, this is for precisely the reasons that Gilchrist says: 1. it'll help Watto keep his place in the team (and provide a solid bowling option), 2. it'll help Watto work on his technique without constantly being exposed to a swinging ball (and provide a solid batting option), and 3. it'll help Australia keep an aggressive-steady opening combination

    Is there any reason up there that sounds terrible, or even bad? In fact, the only downside I can see to all this is that Australia now no longer have a left-right opening combination. When greater batsmen than Watto have done it (Dravid, Sangakkara) to keep the balance of the team, it is pretty daft to suggest otherwise. "The greater good" is more than just a phrase JK Rowling invented as a villanous framing device for the climax of her novels. When there is a chance to have your cake and eat it too, you absolutely must.

  • cricket_ahan on August 8, 2013, 4:04 GMT

    To an extent, you have a point Gilly - if that's where Watson is comfortable, bat him there. The fact remains however, is his record is still poor as an opener, and others' is better. Bowlers and opening batsmen are two things (maybe the only two) that this Australian side is not short of, and whilst opening might feel best to Shane Watson, it doesn't appear to be in the best interests of the team, which must always come first. On the plus side, Watson's failure to convert starts seems to just be a Shane Watson issue, and not related to his batting position. This tells me he will adapt to any new position you put him in, which for me should be no. 5 or 6. In fact, given his power and penchant for hitting boundaries, late order hitting (when the bowlers are tired too) seems a more fitting use of his abilities.

  • Someguy on August 8, 2013, 3:24 GMT

    @Jason Bray - the flaw in your argument is that Watson does not have the "mental application". This is why he so frequently gets starts and fails to convert. He clearly has a lot of talent with the bat, his performances in T20 and ODI's prove that, along with how good he looks getting to 20-30 almost every test innings. As far as I am concerned, he has had more than enough chances. He hasn't scored a century in nearly 3 years and it's been nearly a year since he even managed a 50.

    Starc (28.12 - in 9 innings) and Pattinson (23.33 - 10 innings) both have higher batting averages than Watson (20.41 - 12 innings) for the year, and only slightly less than Watson for career averages (31.15, 30.09 and 34.50 respectively).

    Starc has also managed 2 x 50+ scores this year, including a 99 in India. Watson has none.

    To top it off, Watson has 1 wicket this year @ 114.00. Although, he has been very economical.

    So, can someone explain to me why Watson is still in the team

  • Benkl on August 8, 2013, 3:12 GMT

    Watson doesnt dictate where he bats but his average is MUCH higher opening than at other positions.. If he doesnt open drop him he has been tried at other positions and failed repeatedly. Do we need a 20 averaging #5 and 6

    Average opening 41.28 #5 5.00 #6 24.5 career 34.5

  • wellrounded87 on August 8, 2013, 2:16 GMT

    Why does it have to be Warner or Watson? Why can't Warner and Watson open, move Rogers to 4 and Clarke to 5 with Smith at 6? Or even Rogers at first drop.

    I think Watson and Warner are both at their best with the ball coming onto the bat. Watson is rated as one of bowlers least favourite batsmen to bowl too. Why because he is one of the few batsmen in the world who consistently belts good deliveries for four. He doesn't look shaky and he's a powerful hitter. If not for his weakness for the tactic of aim one in at his pads once an over and catch him Leg before he'd probably be one of the best openers in the world.

    I used to be a big fan of Watson but at 31 years old and 5 years of watching him trapped leg before i think he's probably bit the shark.

    @Mitty and Milsy the Warner/Cowan partnership was founded mostly on Warner. In particular his performance against India in Perth. Cowan failed on a regular basis with only good knock on a flat track.

  • wix99 on August 8, 2013, 2:15 GMT

    I wouldn't open the batting with Watson. Indeed Watson doesn't deserve to be in the team based on his recent lack of runs. The only thing probably keeping him there is that he has bowled some useful overs.

  • OneEyedAussie on August 8, 2013, 1:32 GMT

    Watson certainly has a place in this Australian team. That space is bowling a few spells per innings and batting 6/7 - the traditional test match position of a player of his ability. The problem is Watson disagrees with this. He thinks he should be opening the batting and not bowling at all. In reality, he's not a good enough batsman to do that (for various reasons, i.e. concentration, technique). Watson, being a tempestuous character, seems unable to cope with not getting what he wants - so he underperforms and creates strife in the team. This is the lose-lose dilemma of Watson.

  • hycIass on August 8, 2013, 0:36 GMT

    Great articly Gilly, stick with Watson at opening, Khawaja at 3 as he has done well at that role in shield and will be good if we show him half the confidence shown to others previously in that role, Smith at 5 and i like Warner at 6.

  • Amith_S on August 8, 2013, 0:22 GMT

    The way England has been playing I would be surprised if they retain the Ashes over here. It's going to take a significant improvement in form for their top 3 and they will need to find a number 6 batsman. On this article i have to go with Gilly, keep with Watson, Rogers and Khawaja as our top 3. Rogers and Watson will do well if we stick with them and Khawaja is made to bat at 3 given how well he plays pace bowling, his pull shot is one of the best in the world. Smith has impressed in the middle order and i think a warner at 6 is dangerous like Gilly was.

  • Edwards_Anderson on August 7, 2013, 23:02 GMT

    Good article by Gilly, i personally think Watson is best suited at opening with Rogers. Khawaja is our best number 3 and we need to give him a good numbe of games in that position, remember that Cowan had 19 tests in a row, Khawaja has had 2 tests and top scored at Lords so persist with him as he is our best option there at number 3.

  • Baundele on August 7, 2013, 21:29 GMT

    Gilchrist always makes sense. A great thinker, and he proved that in this article. Watson is a match winner, and he prefers to open. Let him do his job, assist him win matches for Australia.

  • millsy24 on August 7, 2013, 21:15 GMT

    Mitty2, I actually agree with you for a change. I saw an article in The Guardian a couple of weeks ago. Article was on Michael Clarke, but in the stats they mentioned, they said that Warner and Cowan had scored the most runs in partnership behind Clarke and Hussey. Seems a bit ridiculous to have changed it.

  • CapitalMarkets on August 7, 2013, 19:47 GMT

    @Barnesy4444 I completely agree with you about Hughes over Khawaja. The only reason that Hughes is out of favour seems to be his confidence. He is 26 and has never quite lived up to his promise, whether because he had difficulties against short pitched fast bowling or was found wanting against admittedly the best spinners in the world.

    I'm afraid we will have to differ over Watson. Australia would be mad to drop Watson and England would be delighted if he did. The first names on the Australian teamsheet are Clarke, Harris, Siddle, Haddin, Watson and Rogers. They are the spine of the side. Watson is short of runs this series but has scored more than Cook, Trott or Prior. I assume you are not advocating that they go on England's bench. He has technical flaws, but is a very dangerous batsman with the ability to take the game away.

    He has mended his fences with Clarke and he says he's enjoying his game. He's wise to do so, as the alternative was to go into the wilderness with Katich.

  • CapitalMarkets on August 7, 2013, 19:34 GMT

    @vsssarma Bailey and Vosges are short form specialists who are not going to add one iota to the current test squad, which is why we'll see them only in the shorter games. McKay's the same.

    @Chris_Howard, you're putting words into Gilchrist's mouth. He's not suggesting special treatment for Watson and Watson is on record as saying he loves opening but is happy to play anywhere. Fences mended.

    @MrKricket, @Mitty2 and @StraightHit I'm sure English batsmen would love Watson to be dropped, but if you watch them you will see the respect they hold him in. It is true he is short of runs but he's scored more runs this series (146) than Cook, Trott or Prior and (I assume that) you aren't suggesting they should be dropped. Watson's bowled more overs (64) than Bresnan and more than four times as many as England's part timers Root and Trott and, although he only has one wicket, he has gone for less than two an over. The Australians would be mad to ditch the only genuine all-rounder in the series.

  • on August 7, 2013, 19:21 GMT

    I fail to understand why Australia is so patient with Watson. The Australia I knew, after seeing a batter fail so many times would have searched for someone to replace him a long time ago. Warner can open. Australia has more than enough guys who can fight for the number 6 spot. It really isn't fair to alot of the guys who are producing at shield level. What kind of message is CA sending?

  • rafe01 on August 7, 2013, 18:55 GMT

    Why not have Watson or Warner at 3? Watson's bowling contributions are significant. If he doesn't take wickets he goes for less that 2 an over, frustrating the batsmen whilst the other pacemen recover.

  • BigINDFan on August 7, 2013, 16:38 GMT

    Cricketing logic says open the batting with the best players of fast bowling in Tests. So Warner belongs at the top not Watson. Again using same logic middle order should have best players or spin and reverse swing. Watson belongs there not Warner.

    Batting order for 4th test - Warner, Rogers, Khwaja, Clarke, Watson, Smith, Haddin, Agar, Starc, Harris and Siddle

    Steve Smith and Ashton Agar are useful all rounders and should carry the spin department. Lyon is good but he is not effective so might as well pick guys who can bat.

    Settle on a team and improve stop tinkering Ashes or not.

    It is high time Ind found a test team that clicks - Tendulkar out and bring someone young.

    ENG is doing great now but they need to learn from Aus and start planning for 2-3 years from now when Jimmy A, Kevin P and Swann either lose form or retire

  • swervin on August 7, 2013, 15:40 GMT

    it should matter that much where these guys bat but i do think warner is a better chance of putting opposition on the back foot by opening and smacking the opening bowlers around .....maybe the solution is for watson to bat at three as i still believe he's one of the first picked in the team - he's actually made a start in most of his innings on this tour - but australia certainly has to persist with khawaja and rogers for a while here and see how they go - i would have liked to see hughes given more time too but looks like smith is the man lower down the order - i think agar probably needs to come back in too - still not an ideal team and very reliant on clarke but there are signs of hope - be patient folks....

  • Iddo555 on August 7, 2013, 14:59 GMT

    Watson wouldn't deserve a spot in the side if it wasn't for the bowling he does, he certainly doesn't deserve the right to dictate where he wants to bat. His average is around 30 which is poor for someone with his experience, he's neither a kid or someone new to test cricket so he can't use that as an excuse, he needs to bat where the team needs him to bat and he should be grateful that he is even playing with a record like he has.

  • vedang81 on August 7, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    When we analyze both the players, Warner is a regular opener, while Watson is a made opener, not a natural one. Though, it may be best for Watson to open as Gilly said, but, what is best for the team? I guess, Warner opening and Watson playing at number 6 as a genuine all-rounder which he surely is. He needs to change his approach from being a batting all-rounder to a genuine all-rounder, because that's when he will be at his best, with less pressure on him. He is surely, one of the better bowlers too, and can become a true all-rounder which he is trying not to be at the moment.

  • ScottStevo on August 7, 2013, 13:42 GMT

    I agree with Gilly. Watson should open. The harsh reality is that we need Watson for 2 reasons: 1. His bowling gives our team the balance we require without searching for nobody's like Maxwell to extract a few overs from 2. We don't have many players with his ability that we can spare! As Gilly said, although he didn't get the score he would dearly have loved, he did his job as an opener in the sense that he got us off to a good start, calming the situation on the first morning of a test and we were 75-0. It's a job he does well, along with having the ability to return the pressure onto opening bowlers. It's clear that he has the ability and possesses the skills. Yes, we desperately need him to make big scores and he needs to focus. But we need Watson and he doesn't do well in the middle order, so let him open. He looks more at ease than any other of our would be openers and if he can somehow manage to turn a few of those starts into centuries, he'd be a perfect opener.

  • on August 7, 2013, 12:43 GMT

    Why not try Haddin as a stop gap opener for the rest of the two tests? After all chances are that he may be as good or as bad as Watson!!! No harm in a little bit of tweaking of the line up. Haddin is a scrapper and could put England's bowlers off line early on. Moreover he has also some experience having opened in ODIs.

  • CricketChat on August 7, 2013, 11:56 GMT

    Opening is what he did and failed in the Ashes. I think it is time Watson scored some runs, irrespective of where he bats. Otherwise, he doesn't even deserve a place in the team. His bowling contributions are minimal these days.

  • ozwriter on August 7, 2013, 11:32 GMT

    great article Gilly. its really refreshing getting an honest opinion from a former player, and a world class one at that. gilly so modest, mentioning his 2005 shocker while praising haddin. I agree with gilly keep the line up same as 1st innings old trafford but I suspect they will go warner opening, watson at 5/6.

  • Moppa on August 7, 2013, 10:07 GMT

    @Niketh2000, because he averaged 18 in 8 Shield matches last season.

  • Barnesy4444 on August 7, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    Of course Watson has talent. If Australia keep losing and Watson keeps failing he should find himself on the bench.

    What I find more of an issue is the treatment of Hughes, he has been the best young batsman in Australia since he was 20 yet keeps getting stuffed around. Dropped when making test centuries, selected when out of form etc etc. He should bat no lower than 3. If Khawaja doesn't make runs this test I think Hughes should go back to his old position, he should never had been moved from number 3.

  • whoster on August 7, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    Watson has so much ability with the bat, but he's unable to vary the tempo of his innings. Sooner or later, he attacks one ball too many and gets himself out. As for his lbw 'flaw,' I'd call it poor shot selection rather than a technical issue - playing across the line to balls he should be defending. Watson is important to Australia because he's such a useful option as an extra seamer, and can be relied upon to keep an end tight. I personally think he'd be better off in the middle-order, though I don't think that'd make him more likely to score big. Two centuries in over 40 Tests is a very poor conversion rate, and not good enough for any top 6 batsman.

    Well done to Adam for mentioning Brad Haddin. He had a nightmare with the gloves at Lord's - especially the two occasions where he left catches he should've gone for. His keeping was excellent in Manchester, and he took a couple of superb catches.

  • Bockee on August 7, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    Sorry Gilly, for once I also have to disagree with you.

    We all love to hype the next Sobers or Kallis but they are both extremely rare exceptions. Instead, history is full of all - rounders who bring more hope than performance and get picked despite not making the best XI for any one skill. That sort of thing works in great sides (Carl Hooper, Andrew Symonds) or in weak sides (NZ).

    After the last 2 years it's clear that Watson is not a top 6 bat who bowls well but not enough. If you want an all-rounder with Watson's numbers then pick James Faulkner or Andrew McDonald, both will deliver at least that without all the fuss that Watto brings with him.

  • Jaffa79 on August 7, 2013, 9:14 GMT

    Haddin did play well at OT but he was been utterly dreadful in the first two Tests. He was arguably worse than Wade (if that is possible). He made Kamral Akmal-esque mistakes but to be fair he did improve at OT. Surely they need to blood someone new in Australia?

  • on August 7, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    Gilly, gilly, gilly watson is not out of form his technique has suffered from playing shorter format cricket. the same has happened to marsh could not get score in the 4 day games. overnight got a century in a one dayer. play some shorter format games now and watson will get some runs. a season of shield cricket will serve watson well.

  • on August 7, 2013, 8:23 GMT

    Watson, at this moment, does not seem to be enjoying his cricket. I have seen him bat against India in a free flowing manner and bowl his swingers to fetch his team 2-3 wickets each innings. I felt like Indian cricketers did not read him well, back then, and went from over confident to nervous when he came on to bowl. Watson does not seem to hold that edge anymore; physically he looks stiff as well. Even when he played for RR last year, he looked stiff (probably due to his back issue). I feel if he becomes a bit more flexible - by doing Yoga or something - and lose weight, he will get back to good spirits and start enjoying his cricket again. Who knows, then, we will again get to see the Watson of the yesteryears again!

  • venkatesh018 on August 7, 2013, 8:21 GMT

    Gilly is right. Aussies can afford to stick with Watson as an opener. Because other than England and S Africa, no other team has a quality swing bowling attack to test Watson's now well dissected technique(or the lack of it). He will survive against the moderate pace bowling attacks of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh.

  • smudgeon on August 7, 2013, 7:45 GMT

    Sure, Watson prefers to open, but he has had quite a long run at nailing it down, and he just hasn't. Not sure the players should be dictating their batting position unless they have earned a bit of say-so through superlative performance.

  • battingOnAMineField on August 7, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    Watson would never be a great opening batsmen.

  • Niketh2000 on August 7, 2013, 7:21 GMT

    Can anyone tell me why George Bailey wasn't picked for the Ashes??

  • milepost on August 7, 2013, 7:14 GMT

    Disagree with Gilly, not that I'd know more about cricket than him! Some comments about Watson's body language have seemed pretty accurate, there's a certain malaise about him this series. He just doesn't convert and I think Warner, Cowan and Hughes would be more likely though Watson batting 6 or 7 might be worth trying. I like him as a player but you'd expect some good conversions from a highly hyped top order batsman. Root struggles but he still managed a really big score after he was missed on 8. Watson gets in but out so frequently. You expect openers to go for a few single digit scores but to also go big, like Root did and Cook does in better nick.

  • on August 7, 2013, 6:52 GMT

    Client McKay or Moises Henriques should replace Watson and whoever will replace him should bat at # 7.

    Watson is a totally hyped player and a psychological burden over Coach, Captain and Selectors.

    It is just that no one is daring to speak the "truth". The great Alan Border has already given hint.

  • on August 7, 2013, 6:39 GMT

    Chris_Howard : You are spot on.

    You seems extremely fair and truly truly knowledgeable in analyzing players, their ability, their mindset and overall analyzing things in a perspective.

  • spindizzy on August 7, 2013, 6:18 GMT

    What in Watson's record lets him determine where he bats? Neither his average nor his recent form are even indicators that he should even be selected. I'd quite like to open for Australia too but like Watson, I'm not remotely a successful opening batsman, but his pay would be greatly appreciate by me.

  • on August 7, 2013, 6:15 GMT

    I do not agree Adam because Watson is a good player, but the Englishmen had there man so to speaking regard to Watson. Warner on the hand adds another dimension, simply being a left hander and wiling to attack the bowling from the beginning. Therefore the benefits of Warner opening the batting instead of Watson are much grater, at least in this series and depending on Warner's performances on the return leg of the Ashes in Australia.

  • on August 7, 2013, 6:09 GMT

    The biggest problem with Watto opening hasn't even hit yet, that being, what happens when he gets injured? Got to reshuffle the whole pack. He needs to be down at six where he can play as a true allrounder, and if he happens to get injured, which is always highly likely, we can slot in a like for like substitution to avoid all the reshuffling.

  • Chris_Howard on August 7, 2013, 5:31 GMT

    Gilly, usually agree with you, but totally disagree with the idea of Watson being given preferential treatment, which is what you are suggesting with comments like "That's where Watson himself wants to play" (i.e. opening).

    Cowan, Warner and Hughes would like to open to. So why not show them the same favourtism?

    The reality is, Watson has done bugger all as an opener in the last two or three years.

    All his mates in cricket keep pumping him up, telling him he's a great Test batsman (he's not) and a Test opener (he's not).

    His bowling has been very useful in this series, keeping the pressure on while resting the frontline seamers.

    That is the only reason he deserves another chance - **provided** he bats at 6 or 7.

    Get over the fantasy Gilly et al. Watson is not a Kallis.

  • on August 7, 2013, 5:21 GMT

    The most important thing is deciding Watson's role in the team which determines where he bats.The options are If AUS wants to select him as a batting allrounder who bowls a bit & they expect him to find success as a long term opener then I am sorry to say it is a pipe-dream on part of the think tank If AUS wants to select him as a bowling allrounder he must not open,has to find a way to succeed at 6.If AUS are desperate to retain him then this is the role he is most suited to At present he is selected purely on hope, he is no better than a bits & pieces player & the biggest thing he can contribute to the team is not waste a referral.

    P.S. In 2001 S.Waugh then captain who recently won a WC was told to score heavily only after a small lean patch to retain his place & responded by scoring an Ashes ton The greatest keeper batsman of all time whom the author might remember did not bat in the top 6.

    Now an injury prone guy who has not scored a test ton in 2 yrs is the best opener in team.

  • Gurudumu on August 7, 2013, 4:32 GMT

    Give guys like Finch, Voges., Doolan and S Marsh a run. Include them in Tests - leave out Watson and Hughes. Khawaja should also be on his last chance and if he fails, he should also be dropped. As for the spin department, I fail to understand why the fuss about Fawad getting Australian citizenship in such a hurry yet not playing! Surely, he should get a go in the 4th or 5th Test - let's see whether he deserves the expedition of his Australian status.

  • MrKricket on August 7, 2013, 4:07 GMT

    Watson seems to me like Graham Hick and Mark Ramprakash were for England. Persisted with for so many years without ever actually achieving. Phil Hughes is probably in the same bracket. Move them around in the order, drop them now and again (actually Watson never gets dropped) and they score 30s and 40s while never winning matches. Some players get dispensed with very quickly and banished forever, others get a dozen "second chances".

  • cricketfanindia on August 7, 2013, 3:41 GMT

    Watson bowled well notably at Manchester and is best suited for that role. Pushing him to open adds to his burdens. Watson is the right No.6 and under the right conditions the right guy to face the second new ball. He is good at making runs quickly with the old ball - is an attacking player who can seize the initiative from a flagging bowling lineup and still manage the new ball. And he can plunder spin. Also, as an attacking stroke player he can farm the strike even with the tail. Gilli, you are expecting too much from him. Watson is a great one day and 20/20 player. In test cricket, let him bat 6, and bowl tight overs and take 2 wickets when he can.

  • Mitty2 on August 7, 2013, 3:15 GMT

    "f you have an opening partnership of 70 or 80 on the first day of a Test, both openers have done their job." - Sorry Gilchrist, your articles are usually very good but i have to disagree with you here. This is EXACTLY what the partnership of Cowan and Warner were doing. In fact, statistically, they were the best opening partnership in the world, with an average equatable to Langer's and Hayden's. But people were starting to complain about the lack of centuries of either, and so we prematurely broke up that stand in the hope that we'd get more centuries. Look how that worked out? Not a century from either.

    Watson should not be in the side... Ever. It's not positional. He averages 12 opening in the Shield and despite an average of 80 in the County he hasn't opened. His opening test form was his only ever form in a prolonged period of no injuries. He has no temperament, and he doesn't have the excuse of being young. He adds nothing to the future; he has no positives. Get Hughes in now.

  • vsssarma on August 7, 2013, 3:13 GMT

    From ODI, Australia should promote Bailey and Voges to Test match cricket. Watson is not in a mood to perform. And is Mitchell Johnson or Hilfenhaus so bad to 'retire' them from test cricket ?

  • vsssarma on August 7, 2013, 3:13 GMT

    From ODI, Australia should promote Bailey and Voges to Test match cricket. Watson is not in a mood to perform. And is Mitchell Johnson or Hilfenhaus so bad to 'retire' them from test cricket ?

  • Mitty2 on August 7, 2013, 3:15 GMT

    "f you have an opening partnership of 70 or 80 on the first day of a Test, both openers have done their job." - Sorry Gilchrist, your articles are usually very good but i have to disagree with you here. This is EXACTLY what the partnership of Cowan and Warner were doing. In fact, statistically, they were the best opening partnership in the world, with an average equatable to Langer's and Hayden's. But people were starting to complain about the lack of centuries of either, and so we prematurely broke up that stand in the hope that we'd get more centuries. Look how that worked out? Not a century from either.

    Watson should not be in the side... Ever. It's not positional. He averages 12 opening in the Shield and despite an average of 80 in the County he hasn't opened. His opening test form was his only ever form in a prolonged period of no injuries. He has no temperament, and he doesn't have the excuse of being young. He adds nothing to the future; he has no positives. Get Hughes in now.

  • cricketfanindia on August 7, 2013, 3:41 GMT

    Watson bowled well notably at Manchester and is best suited for that role. Pushing him to open adds to his burdens. Watson is the right No.6 and under the right conditions the right guy to face the second new ball. He is good at making runs quickly with the old ball - is an attacking player who can seize the initiative from a flagging bowling lineup and still manage the new ball. And he can plunder spin. Also, as an attacking stroke player he can farm the strike even with the tail. Gilli, you are expecting too much from him. Watson is a great one day and 20/20 player. In test cricket, let him bat 6, and bowl tight overs and take 2 wickets when he can.

  • MrKricket on August 7, 2013, 4:07 GMT

    Watson seems to me like Graham Hick and Mark Ramprakash were for England. Persisted with for so many years without ever actually achieving. Phil Hughes is probably in the same bracket. Move them around in the order, drop them now and again (actually Watson never gets dropped) and they score 30s and 40s while never winning matches. Some players get dispensed with very quickly and banished forever, others get a dozen "second chances".

  • Gurudumu on August 7, 2013, 4:32 GMT

    Give guys like Finch, Voges., Doolan and S Marsh a run. Include them in Tests - leave out Watson and Hughes. Khawaja should also be on his last chance and if he fails, he should also be dropped. As for the spin department, I fail to understand why the fuss about Fawad getting Australian citizenship in such a hurry yet not playing! Surely, he should get a go in the 4th or 5th Test - let's see whether he deserves the expedition of his Australian status.

  • on August 7, 2013, 5:21 GMT

    The most important thing is deciding Watson's role in the team which determines where he bats.The options are If AUS wants to select him as a batting allrounder who bowls a bit & they expect him to find success as a long term opener then I am sorry to say it is a pipe-dream on part of the think tank If AUS wants to select him as a bowling allrounder he must not open,has to find a way to succeed at 6.If AUS are desperate to retain him then this is the role he is most suited to At present he is selected purely on hope, he is no better than a bits & pieces player & the biggest thing he can contribute to the team is not waste a referral.

    P.S. In 2001 S.Waugh then captain who recently won a WC was told to score heavily only after a small lean patch to retain his place & responded by scoring an Ashes ton The greatest keeper batsman of all time whom the author might remember did not bat in the top 6.

    Now an injury prone guy who has not scored a test ton in 2 yrs is the best opener in team.

  • Chris_Howard on August 7, 2013, 5:31 GMT

    Gilly, usually agree with you, but totally disagree with the idea of Watson being given preferential treatment, which is what you are suggesting with comments like "That's where Watson himself wants to play" (i.e. opening).

    Cowan, Warner and Hughes would like to open to. So why not show them the same favourtism?

    The reality is, Watson has done bugger all as an opener in the last two or three years.

    All his mates in cricket keep pumping him up, telling him he's a great Test batsman (he's not) and a Test opener (he's not).

    His bowling has been very useful in this series, keeping the pressure on while resting the frontline seamers.

    That is the only reason he deserves another chance - **provided** he bats at 6 or 7.

    Get over the fantasy Gilly et al. Watson is not a Kallis.

  • on August 7, 2013, 6:09 GMT

    The biggest problem with Watto opening hasn't even hit yet, that being, what happens when he gets injured? Got to reshuffle the whole pack. He needs to be down at six where he can play as a true allrounder, and if he happens to get injured, which is always highly likely, we can slot in a like for like substitution to avoid all the reshuffling.

  • on August 7, 2013, 6:15 GMT

    I do not agree Adam because Watson is a good player, but the Englishmen had there man so to speaking regard to Watson. Warner on the hand adds another dimension, simply being a left hander and wiling to attack the bowling from the beginning. Therefore the benefits of Warner opening the batting instead of Watson are much grater, at least in this series and depending on Warner's performances on the return leg of the Ashes in Australia.

  • spindizzy on August 7, 2013, 6:18 GMT

    What in Watson's record lets him determine where he bats? Neither his average nor his recent form are even indicators that he should even be selected. I'd quite like to open for Australia too but like Watson, I'm not remotely a successful opening batsman, but his pay would be greatly appreciate by me.